Early this year, MVD Entertainment Group brought a renewed attention to one of DC Comics’ famed not-so-jolly green giant, Swamp Thing when it re-issued the 1989 big screen sequel to Swamp Thing, The Return of Swamp Thing. The re-issue proved to be what is easily one of the best of this year’s crop of re-issues. Being that the company released that movie first, it left many wondering if the original Swamp Thing (1982), would get its own release and when. Luckily audiences did not have to wait very long for that answer, as officials with MVD announced in April, plans to re-issue Swamp Thing today, and it has in fact been released to the masses. As with The Return of Swamp Thing, this originator proves itself one of the best of this year’s re-issues. That is proven in part through the movie’s story and its presentation thereof, which will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the re-issue builds on the foundation formed by the story and its presentation, enhancing the viewing experience even more. That content will be discussed a little later. The cast’s work on screen rounds out the movie’s most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation. All things considered they make MVD Entertainment Group’s brand-new re-issue of Swamp Thing another welcome presentation that audiences across the board will appreciate.
MVD Entertainment Group’s brand-new re-issue of MGM/United Artist’s 1982 comic-to-screen adaptation of Swamp Thing is another impressive offering from the independent distribution company. It is more proof that MVD has, in recent years, taken the lead from the likes of Shout! Factory as the leader in home entertainment releases. The movie’s appeal comes in no small part to its featured story and the presentation thereof. The story is simple. It tells the tale of how Dr. Alec Holland went from being a mild-mannered scientist who was trying to find a solution to providing enough food for the world’s population to becoming the movie’s titular character. As the story goes, Holland was enveloped by the chemical he was using to grow plants bigger than ever as he was accidentally set on fire by the evil Dr. Arcane’s henchmen. Arcane and his thugs thought they had gotten rid of Holland after they take his formula, which combined animal and plant DNA, only to discover later, he had become Swamp Thing. It is not until later in the story, of course, that the revelation is made by Arcane. The way in which writer/director Wes Craven (yes, that Wes Craven) made that happen really is deserving of applause. What’s more, the way in which he made the whole story happen is deserving of applause. Even Swamp Thing creator Len Wein made note of how pleased he was to see the story stuck so true to its source material in his bonus discussion. This will be addressed at more length later. Getting back on the topic at hand, the story in question balances expertly, its camp and action to give audiences so much to appreciate throughout the 91-minute presentation. Unlike so many campy movies out there past and present, not one bit of it felt contrived. It makes suspension of disbelief that easy. In suspending their disbelief, audiences will find themselves just how enjoyable the story proves to be, even if they are not comic book and/or science fiction fans.
Getting back to the movie’s presentation, it was noted in the bonus features for The Return of Swamp Thing that Swamp Thing was far less campy in its presentation than its sequel. In watching Swamp Thing that proves ultimately to be true. However, there is a certain camp sense about the movie even actually within its action-packed moments. The thing is that even being notable, the camp is still not as over the top as it is in The Return of Swamp Thing. It actually accents those moments and makes them all the more enjoyable especially when set against the story’s heavier moments. Keeping all of this in mind, the story featured at the foundation of Swamp Thing and its presentation collectively make for a strong starting point for the movie.
Building on that solid foundation is the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its brand-new re-issue. Audiences get more than five hours of bonus content in this release counting the two separate feature-length audio commentaries included with the re-issue. One of those re-issues is a full commentary from Craven that is moderated by Sean Clark. The other is with makeup effects artist William Munn and moderated by Michael Felsher. Those two commentaries alone offer so much insight into the movie and are just part of what makes the bonus content so notable. As noted previously, Len Wein, who is the creator of Swamp Thing pointed out in his own 13-minute-plus feature, that he approved of how Craven adapted Swamp Thing’s origin story to the screen in this movie. Wein also makes some other revelations that are sure to enlighten and entertain audiences. One of those revelations is that he in fact does not know to this day how he even came up with the concept of Swamp Thing. He said he came up with the idea for Swamp Thing on a subway and that his very name came from “the Swamp man thing” he was working on. That in itself is so funny. He also provides his own story of how he actually didn’t even start his career in comics as a writer, but an artist. That anecdote is engaging and entertaining in its own right, too.
Weis is not the only person to praise Craven for his work on swamp Thing. Star Adrienne Barbeau discusses the movie in an archived discussion previously released through Scream Factory (interestingly enough) and makes mention of Craven’s dedication to getting the movie just right. She said of his original script (which did not make it to the final presentation), that it was “beautiful,” but that cuts to the movie’s budget ultimately led to various scenes being cut. Those cuts, in turn, led to the final product being quite different from the original script. Knowing this, one cannot help but wonder what the original script would have looked like on screen. It is just one of the interesting points that she shares in her discussion. Her revelation that she hated the movie after seeing its early screening brings laughter from her and as a result, is certain to result in laughs from viewers, too. Viewers will get laughs as they listen to her describe her surprise at how Siskel and Ebert actually praised the movie despite her own thoughts and feelings because of everything that happened. As if all of this is not enough, Barbeau also reveals that the movie’s production crew apparently was none too happy during the on-site filming; that in fact many of the crew made their displeasure with their pay (and even lack thereof) very vocal. That brief story adds yet another layer of depth to the movie’s presentation and is just one more of so many interesting stories that she shares. Her overall 16-minute-plus (nearly 17-minute) discussion adds so much interest to the final product presented here. The rest of her talks are just as interesting as what is noted here.
Barbeau’s co-star Reggie Batts (who played the supporting role of Jude) is another interesting bonus. One of the most intriguing items that Batts raises in his nearly 15-minute discussion is that there really is never any mention in the story of how Jude (who was supposed to be a pre-teen in the story) came to be living by himself, running a gas station. In hindsight, that really is a point of interest since it proves to be a bit of a plot hole. Going back to Barbeau’s discussion, one cannot help but wonder if maybe Craven’s original script might have had some back story for Jude, giving him more screen time. Yes, Jude was a supporting character, but it still would have been interesting to have had at least that much back story. Batts also talks about how well he was treated by the cast and crew, giving a slightly opposing view to that of Barbeau as she talked about the crew. It makes that matter become a little bit of a “he said, she said” situation. Batts said the cast and crew treated him so well even being a supporting actor, and that he even developed a personal and professional friendship with Dick Durok (who played Swamp Thing) thanks to his own father being a movie buff. As if all of that is not enough, Batts also points out that he was a comic book fan as a child, going so far as to point out Marvel’s answer to DC’s Swamp Thing, Man Thing. That shows how deep his knowledge of comics goes and is sure to impress comic book fans across the board.
Between Batts’ own in-depth commentary, those of Barbeau, Weis, the feature-length commentaries, and even one more bonus feature, “From Krug to Comics: How The Mainstream Shaped A Genre Voice,” the overall bonus content featured in this movie’s new re-issue makes for just as much engagement and enjoyment as the central story and its presentation. It strengthens the foundation formed by the story and its presentation all the more and still is not the last of the most notable items. The cast’s work on screen rounds out the most important of the movie’s elements.
In regard to the cast’s work on screen, it deserves just as much applause as the movie’s story. That is because of how it plays into the balance of serious and camp approach. Some of Arcane’s henchmen bring just enough of that camp with their dialogue and the delivery therein. It borders on being over the top, but still manages to be just serious enough to make it enjoyable in its silliness. Even Arcane himself (Louis Jourdan) does just enough to walk that fine line throughout the movie. He borders, at times, at being the stereotypical camp villain thanks to his performance, but manages to keep just enough on that line to keep from going over. The result is a performance that does just enough to be believable in its own right. Of course, on cannot forget the performances of Barbeau, Wise, and Durock. They bring just enough seriousness to their performances to give the story a bit of an edge, too. The result of the cast’s collective attention to its performances creates a sense throughout the movie that is just enough to keep viewers engaged and entertained in its own right, too. When the overall performances are considered along with the movie’s story and its presentation, and with the re-issue’s overall bonus content, the whole makes Swamp Thing in whole another impressive offering from MVD Entertainment Group that audiences across the board will appreciate.
MVD Entertainment Group’s brand-new re-issue of Swamp Thing is a presentation that comic book fans, science fiction fans and movie buffs alike will appreciate for so many reasons. One of those reasons is the movie’s story and its presentation. The story is easy to follow and really is right there along with the origin stories of so many comic book superheroes. The story’s presentation makes for its own interest. It should be noted here that it is presented in a PG and separate unrated version. The unrated version features a brief scene involving Barbeau being topless in the swamp for a moment. Viewer discretion should be advised in noting this. The bonus content that accompanies the movie’s re-issue adds even more engagement and entertainment to the presentation, giving audiences more to appreciate. The cast’s work offers its own share of engagement and entertainment, too. That is because the cast exhibits through its work, a wonderful balance of seriousness and camp, with neither ever overpowering the other. Each item examined here is important in its own right to the whole of Swamp Thing. All thins considered they make MVD Entertainment Group’s re-issue of Swamp Thing yet another of this year’s top new re-issues.
Swamp Thing is available now. More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available at: